It only took a single console generation, but Assassin's Creed has just become Ubisoft's biggest selling franchise of all time. 73 million copies have been sold to date, and with the way Ubisoft whips it out on stage every year, it doesn't seem like the sales are going to falter any time soon.
In fact, Ubisft is set to have not just one, but two Assassin Creed games in the works for this coming holiday season. Expect more reveals at E3 this year and many more to follow. VP of Creative Lionel Raynaud even said the company would be "stupid" to ignore the annual demand for the franchise.
Assassin's Creed first launched on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC back in 2007. Much of its hype revolved around its "next-gen" ideas like the entire map having geometry and our assassin friend, Altair, being able to cling to any ledge he saw. It's amazing how much we take that for granted now, and for the most part, Ubisoft pulled a nice little game out of these ideas. Nothing huge or ground-breaking like promised, but the first Assassin's Creed made one important step for creating a franchise.
What wasn't in the hype was that we had to part-time the game as Desmond, Altair's descendant and a man in search of a personality, in a futuristic setting in which he could dive into his ancestor's memories. We didn't realize it at the time, but this over-arching back story allowed for episodic adventures to occur throughout history. Ubisoft was able to use this to carry on the series into 15 more entries.
What started as a fun little series peaked in Assassin's Creed II, once Ubisoft managed to deliver on all the promises it made with the first game with fun missions, smart world design, and a protagonist we could actually get behind. I played Assassin's Creed II so much that it effectively turned me off open-world games, and I haven't gone back to being a completionist ever since.
Which is why I've avoided the series since then. Assassin's Creed II came out at roughly the end of innocence in video gaming, meaning that at about the same time, annualization of our favorite series kicked into full gear and gaming started taking a much more corporate face. Two half sequels, two sequels, and a few handheld entries later, I'm still not ready to jump back in. Assassin's Creed IV looks like a great jumping point if I can find it cheap, but the series seems to have lost touch with what originally made it fun and innovative with its new "throw anything to the wall and see what sticks" approach.
We'll see where my future with the series lies from here, but for now, I'm more pumped for a possible 2D Prince of Persia using the UbiArt Frameworks Engine. Talk about jumping through history!
Behind Assassin's Creed, Let's Dance takes second at 48 million units followed by the three big Tom Clancy series Splinter Cell, Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon which all hover around the 25-30 million area. Classic Ubisoft favorites Rayman, Prince of Persia, and Far Cry dangle around the 20 million mark. Poor Beyond Good & Evil isn't even listed!